"We're Not Worthy! We're Not Worthy!!" or Try Not To Troll Yourself
I believe the hardest part of writing a blog (at least for me) is that I'm well aware of my own limitations. I, and I alone, know all of the mistakes I've made and silly things I've done. I doubt my own judgment and perceptions constantly and worry whether I'm saying something worthwhile or just spouting a bunch of utter rubbish. I worry whether whatever I do will be good enough or simply laughably amateurish. I worry whether I'm wasting other people's time with my self-indulgent maunderings. (Don't blame me; you're the one reading this!)
By silencing my own voice, before it's even had a chance to bounce around a little and see where something worth listening to might appear, I'm guiltier than anyone when it comes to telling myself that what I have to say or offer isn't really important, or could be better thought out, or better done by someone else more qualified. I remind myself of things I've said in the past that turned out to be cruel, ignorant, or absolute bollocks and, more often than not, stop myself from speaking. (Any of my friends reading this can just hush; believe it or not I don't say everything I think and, yes, I do have a filter.)
The thing is, while I may not be all-knowing and all-seeing (Yeah, Carnac I'm not; although I do think turbans have a certain je ne sais quoi,) I do wonder how many times did my taking a moment to share my experiences and thought processes make a difference for the better in someone else's journey? How many times did my not sharing, due to my own insecurities and fear, delay another from finding that encouragement for that next step on their own path?
I think I honestly worry too much about sounding foolish or ignorant and, because of this, I've been the one who has most effectively hobbled myself throughout most of my life. I, and I alone, have chosen to take on the negativity of my own thoughts or the negative reactions of others and allowed it to translate itself into such a silly fear and limitation. I've bullied myself as much as I've allowed others to bully me, too. My fear of other people's reactions has caused me to hide when I should have been out there jumping up and down saying "Look at me!" and kept me silent when I should have spoken.
Don't get me wrong, there have been many times where I reacted without thinking and did something I was proud of (even if it was rather a dangerous thing for me to do, it definitely was the right thing to do.) The time I bellowed out "STOP! Don't you dare behave that way in front of a child!" when I saw two men chasing and beating a gypsy man in Chile after knocking over his small child and leaving the poor kiddo crying in middle of the street. Admittedly, the gypsy was using the child's peeing behind a truck as a cover for trying to break into the truck, but that wasn't the child's fault and there's no reason why he should have to witness his father being beaten within an inch of his life.
I still remember the utter confusion of the faces of all the combatants when I was telling them off like a schoolmarm ticking off misbehaving children. "But he was using him to break into our truck..." interrupted by me sternly telling them I didn't care what he had done, that was no excuse for them to have knocked a child flying and left him crying in the street while they attacked his father in front of him. Rather than telling me to mind my own dang gringo business, the brouhaha did end and everyone walked away rather shamefacedly.
The thing is, I didn't think about it. I didn't sit there and wonder if I should do or say something. The words came out of my mouth, me standing right in the middle of a crosswalk bellowing down the street at three grown men fighting on the ground in a foreign country; without more than a deeply drawn breath to fuel this foghorn I seem to carry around in my chest when it's necessary. (Helped that I speak Spanish, but still not the smartest thing to have done in retrospect.)
Or the time a friend of mine was attacked outside of The Boathouse, one of Austin's gay bars way back in the '80s. He was taking the night's receipts to the bank drop box and a group of about five or six college frat boys/football players thought they saw an easy mark for some generalized brutality as a cherry on top of their testosterone and Budweiser-fueled evening.
The thing was, my friend had a black belt and was carrying a lot of money in a bank bag, so he naturally thought he was being robbed. When they jumped him, he dropped the bank bag, stood on it, and apparently had then proceeded to whip seventeen shades of poo out of these big boys surrounding him. I came around the corner in time to see the aftermath of that melee. My friend, calm and collected, was standing in the middle of a circle of large young men who were disheveled, clothing torn, bleeding from various spots of their persons, and several holding themselves in the slightly hunched postures of those who have quite recently received bruised ribs and whatnot. I distinctly remember the expensive, now broken, watch dangling from the wrist of one of those bozos (wonder how he explained that to Daddy?)
I told the friend I was walking with to go into the club and tell the people at the desk to call the police and I turned and shouldered my way into the middle of the circle of frat boy/football players in my four-inch heels. And, of course, started immediately ticking them off about what the heck they thought they were doing. It was frankly amazing to me that they felt completely justified in jumping on and attempting to assault someone simply because they had seen him walking out of a known gay bar. We kept them busy by debating (and I use the term very loosely) back and forth until the police arrived and they were quite surprised to learn they were being arrested for attempted felony theft, as well as assault. Again, probably not the smartest thing for me to have done, but I didn't even consider leaving my friend to stand alone in the middle of that circle of muscle-bound knuckleheads. (Even though he was obviously perfectly capable of handling himself.)
Most of the time, the moments I did my best were the moments I didn't allow myself to stop and think, but went ahead and did what I could to protect someone I saw being harmed. It's that dang Mom-gene thing, I guess. But, how many times could I have made just as big a difference for someone when I wasn't fueled by adrenalin? Those moments where I didn't need to act instantly to help keep someone, anyone, safe if possible? All those moments that I missed, they happened because I talked myself out of it for whatever reason.
The internet has made us much more aware of those wonderful beings we label as "trolls." Those who love to provoke and bully and leaving steaming piles of emotional desecration in their wake. The thing is, these people have always existed, they have always been out there looking for opportunities to bolster their own fragile egos by denigrating or provoking others. There have always been people who get their sordid little jollies from causing misery or provoking anger in another person in an attempt to garner themselves a wee bit of a misguided sense of power by crapping on someone else's day.
I've got news for you; I've seen the trolls and the trolls are us. No? Betcha a dollar you've been one at some point. When you didn't let someone blend into your lane of traffic, even though it wouldn't be any hardship. When you leave a nasty, name-calling comment on some politician's webpage or the site of some person you don't agree with, for whatever reason. When you saw someone struggling with a screaming child in a public place and gave them a dirty look and walked off with your nose held high. When you saw the person heading for the same checkout lane as you, but decided to pretend you didn't see them and race to get ahead of them even though they only had a few items. When you might have cried shame and affected outrage over some manipulated "news" story without bothering to research and learn the actual facts before heaping your ignorant opinion on the people involved. Yeah, all of us have been trolls at some point or another. All of us have, at some point, gotten that petty little power rush from being able to make someone else's day just that little bit crappier.
Worse yet, we troll ourselves. Whenever we think about stretching out of our little cocoons, we belittle ourselves with the worst sort of denigrating, blatherskite-esque ramblings and leave ourselves feeling like frauds at best. Ask yourself this, as I've asked myself; "Why, when you would readily jump to the defense of another person being attacked in front of you, would you not as handily and readily jump to your own defense when you are being attacked?" Oh, you don't see self-denigration as an attack? Believe me, it is. It's the worst kind of attack, an attack from within. Trojan horse-ism at it's finest.
I'm not saying everything that comes out of our ramblings are little nuggets of purest gold. What I am saying is cut yourself a break and give yourself permission to experience this world fully without the constant, nagging trolling that we all commit upon our poor, bullied little psyches. Exchanging ideas and letting them loose to let them breathe a bit gives them the opportunity to grow and, just perhaps, nourish or enlighten yourself and others along the way. Be as protective of yourself as you would be of others. I know you know you can survive. Heck, we've all survived much more than anyone could imagine and are, amazingly, still standing. But, just because you can stand up under it, that doesn't mean you should have to do so.
A wonderful book that taught me quite a bit about myself was "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood (and if you are in what you believe might be an abusive relationship (men included! Men are abused by psychopathic partners, too.) then I suggest you read it and read it again. One of the quotes that stuck with me was a story about a women who, while cleaning up the decimation to her art and home caused by an abusive partner, suddenly realized "I deserve better than the worst I can stand." This realization helped her to start making boundaries and sticking to them and eventually she was able to extricate herself from her abusive relationship; but it took that moment to fully understand that she deserved better than what she had the strength to withstand for her to start taking the necessary steps towards freedom. God bless her, it helped me to do the same thing. I'll always be grateful to her for sharing that empowering simple truth.
Those of us who have been caught in abusive relationships and have had it beaten into our heads (sometimes literally, sometimes not) what worthless, stupid, awful people we are (and why on Earth would we think we deserve to be treated like anything but garbage?), but thankfully have managed to get away and find a new beginning; well, we tend to struggle with this the most. Someone we loved and trusted betrayed that privilege by walking into our wheelhouses with a sledgehammer and swung away, leaving us rudderless and without control in the middle of a perfect storm.
Worse yet, we castigate ourselves for letting them do this to us. Note: Psychopaths will hurt anyone...ANYONE they want to and they derive pleasure from it. You were just another target they randomly chose and the only thing that might have made you a special target is the fact that you are most likely kinder and more accepting than a lot of people. Don't kick yourself for that, just keep your eyes open in the future. People will always show you who they are, so don't be distracted by pretty words and promises; make sure you pay attention to their actions and protect yourself in the future. The only way to deal with a psychopath is no contact. Period.
We all deserve better than the worst we can stand. We deserve love, protection, acceptance, encouragement, and forgiveness if we are truly repentant. All of that should come from us first, because if we don't have it inside of ourselves, then how can we ever be able to give it to others? ("If you don't love yourself, how in hell you gonna love somebody else?" ~ RuPaul. You GO, Girl!) Cut yourself a break, we all do the darn best we can at any given moment, even if it wasn't the best that could have been done. Learn, remember, and then next time do better. But don't waste your time telling yourself over and over how awful or stupid you are/were; kicking yourself is a piss-poor way of getting exercise. Be the change you want to see in the world and all that jazz, but start with yourself if you want to make it a kinder and better world. God bless and don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back for having made it this far.